You ask the questions

(Such as: AA Gill, controversial food critic, have the words `Big Mac and fries, please' ever passed your lips?)
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The columnist AA Gill, 45, was born in Edinburgh. After being educated by Quakers at the only vegetarian boarding school in Britain, he studied Fine Art at the Slade. Controversial for once describing the Welsh as "stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls", he writes columns on politics, television and restaurants for The Sunday Times. He was recently asked to leave the chef Gordon Ramsay's Chelsea bistro; Ramsay had taken exception to Gill's "vindictive" write-ups. Gill lives in London with his partner, Nicola Formby (the model he refers to in his column as The Blonde), and his two children.

Why do you hate the Welsh?

Gaynor James, Newport, South Wales

The point about the Welsh is that they're like mice; individually they're quite sweet but altogether they're a plague. As an identifiable public group, they're the most thin-skinned outside the Middle East. They're very easy to tease, which is always gratifying to a columnist. My advice to them is to lighten up and realise that it's far worse when people don't refer to you at all.

Can you recommend a good trattoria in Croydon?

Neil Carter, Croydon.

Yes. It's called Nino's, and what you do is drive from Croydon to Heathrow Airport, take a plane to Rome and then ask.

When did you start wearing a monocle?

Iain Moore, Primrose Hill

I wore one for 10 years because I've got one bad eye. I've stopped now - the other eye got worse and I thought to wear two would look ridiculous.

Who are the living writers and journalists whose work you admire? And the dead?

Emily Sharrock, Colchester

The dead are easier; the journalist who's made the most impression on me is James Cameron - I used to buy the paper every week to read him long before I ever imagined being a journalist. He produced the best sort of opinionated feature-writing, and had such a strong voice. Other ones I think are particularly great are Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling. Living: I've got enormous respect for Richard Littlejohn, and I love Keith Waterhouse.

Antony Worrall Thompson once wrote that "AA Gill needs to remember that there is life in restaurants outside London". Do you think you do?

Lewis O'Connor, East Sussex.

There is life, but it's 1972 life. There was a serious problem with the so-called food renaissance in Britain, in that it happened almost entirely in London, with the exception of a few country hotels with access to London clients. I don't see the point of going to a bistro in Rotherham when it's not on the same playing-field as Chelsea or Battersea. People simply won't pay the sort of amount for food that they do in London. They'll look at breast of chicken on the menu and say: "I could buy a whole one for that price. Why should I pay so much for one tit?"

Are any of your friends Welsh? And if so, are you still on speaking terms?

Ros Williams, Hereford

Implicit in that question is that I don't yet confuse what I write with who I am. I'm a father, a friend, a son, a neighbour, which my persona as a columnist has little to do with. I'm sure I've got friends who are Welsh, Jewish and Croatian, but where they're from is not of paramount importance in choosing friends.

How did you feel when the Evening Standard described you and your girlfriend Nicola as a "super-couple"?

Jayne Keegan, Fulham

It's just one of those journalistic attempts to try and find imaginary groups of people to write 1,500 words about. They rarely succeed. If you're ever included in these, you always think that it's entirely bogus. I think I feel the same as anyone else; probably rather shambolic and hopeless - the shambolic and hopeless half of a super-couple.

If there were one question you'd like to ask Gordon Ramsay about his decision to throw you out of his restaurant, what would it be?

Gina Lloyd, Oxford

Nothing. My only interest in Gordon Ramsay is eating his food. I review restaurants, not chefs.

When did you realise you wanted to be a restaurant critic?

Johnny Norman, Camberwell

Like everything that has happened in my life, I've always ended up doing things because I couldn't do something else. I started by writing recipe columns, then when I got to The Sunday Times, I knew the best job on the newspaper was restaurant critic. I begged and begged to do it and made such a nuisance of myself, I got a letter from the deputy editor that said, "Dear Adrian, Fuck Off." They tried out every other food writer in London and then they tried me.

What's the most disgusting meal you've ever eaten, and where was it?

Judy Ottoway, Esher

I'm spoilt for choice. Two stand out, though. One was a Danish speciality - it was wind-dried lamb and tasted like rancid sheep fat eaten out of the kitchen sink. The other was truly disgusting - a giant African bullfrog cooked in sand in Botswana. That tasted like wet, fishy newspaper - and it was very muddy.

Is there any truth in the cliche that there are those who do, and those who write about it?

E Fish, Cheltenham

The truth is that very, very few people who do can write.

Can you cook? If so, which recipe books do you see as invaluable?

Editha Bayliss, Barnes

Yes, I can cook. I don't use recipe books. You learn to cook by constantly getting your hands into ingredients. Saying that, I have an enormous respect for Delia, and Eliza Acton is really the beginning of British food. And I still adore Elizabeth David.

Why do you think all the great chefs are male, when cooking is traditionally a female task?

Louisa Hart, Chiswick

The difference between a chef and a cook is the difference between a wife and a prostitute. Cooks do meals for people they know and love. Chefs do it anonymously for anyone who's got the price.

Have you ever wondered why there aren't more female chefs?

Maya Sinclair, Dorset

Most women are far too sensible to want to work in kitchens, which are blokish, very rough and often quite sadistic places. Male chefs like all that: the testosterone ingredient in the job.

If you could eat something right now, what would it be?

Jill Forsyth, Ipswich

Nothing. I don't eat in the day at all. I like being hungry. I eat one very big meal once a day - and I eat out every evening except Sunday.

What's in your fridge at the moment?

Christina Price, Manchester

I don't know. Nicola looks after the fridge. Probably a lot of water, mostly kids' things like Ribena, and packed lunches.

What do the two As stand for?

Angela Herbert, Chipping Norton

Adrian Anthony. Absolute Arsehole, if you read my mailbag.

Have the words "Big Mac and fries" ever passed your lips? If not, have you ever been tempted?

Richard Naylor, Brighton

When I was a student I used to eat them, but I really didn't like them. I taught myself to cook primarily because I didn't want to eat Big Macs - they're just hideous.

What do you predict will be the next fashionable food fad?

I'm fed up with food fads. Chefs suffer from terrible menu envy - there's a world of ingredients available and yet chefs are cooking fewer and fewer of them. What happens is that they never get to know dishes over a long period of time. The truth about cooking is that you get good at cooking one thing 20 times, not 20 things once.

Where's the best restaurant in Shepherd's Bush? Is there such a thing?

Bella McEwen, Shepherds Bush

Yes, there is. The Brackenbury isn't a bad restaurant. And the Springbok Cafe, which is South African.

If you lost your sense of taste, what other sense would you turn to in order to compensate?

Sara Gourley, Swindon

Nothing would compensate. That's my greatest fear. If I had to choose between losing sight and taste, I'd lose my sight.

Do you credit any chef with real ingelligence and charm? If so, whom?

Chris Ellis, Stevenage

The list is short and I'm keeping it to myself.

What's your favourite restaurant at the moment?

Shirley Hughes, Hungerford

I don't have favourites; as a critic, it's unfair. Favourite for what? I would go to a different restaurant if I were going out with a bunch of mates than I would if I were going out to get laid.

Where are you going this evening?

Donald O'Sullivan

The Blonde hasn't told me yet.

You Ask The


Next Week: Mohamed al-Fayed, Then Following, Barry Manilow

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